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Highlanders midfielder Fetuli Paea is tackled last February during the pre-season game against the Hurricanes in Alexandra.
The Highlanders canceled their pre-season game against Moana Pasifika in Queenstown on Feb. 11 after the country moved to a red setting to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The Farmlands Cup clash against the Crusaders in Weston, North Otago, on February 4 is still going on but will have to be played behind closed doors.
“We are devastated to have to exclude the public from the Farmlands Cup and cancel our Queenstown match,” Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said in a statement.
“Our pre-season games are always some of our favorite events where we can go to our regional areas and we hope to return to these regions in the future.”
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The Highlanders-Moana Pasifika match is the last chance for both sides to fine-tune their preparations before Super Rugby Pacific kicks off on February 18 with a game between Moana Pasifika and the Blues at Mt Smart Stadium.
The Highlanders open their campaign with a trip to Hamilton to face the Chiefs on February 19.
Due to the value of the match, the Highlanders are not ruling out playing Moana Pasifika at another location behind closed doors on February 11.
However, losing the match will hit Queenstown hard after the cancellation of numerous events in recent years, including a Highlanders-Rebels match at Super Rugby Trans Tasman last year.
“This is a difficult pill to swallow for the Highlanders, and we would like to express our gratitude to Bayley’s Queenstown for their continued support for the Highlanders and the local community.
“We would also like to thank all the local contractors and suppliers who have worked with us over the past two years and the local community, especially children, who end up being the victims.”
The Highlanders said all online tickets will be automatically refunded through Ticketek, while tickets purchased for the Farmlands Cup from local Farmlands stores must be returned to the store for a refund.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a nationwide move to the red Covid traffic light from midnight on Sunday.
Super Rugby Pacific will still continue under the red setting, providing a measure of security for the Kiwi clubs.
“The traffic light system is a big change to the system we’ve been dealing with over the past two years,” said NZ Rugby Head of Competitions Cameron Good last week. “Under the old alarm system, we had to stop training and we had to stop playing.
“Under the traffic light system, we can still play rugby on green, orange and red. It’s a huge change for us and it gives us a lot of confidence that the games will be played.”
However, all teams are looking at a serious financial blow as they face an undefined period of play without crowded crowds.
Crusaders boss Colin Mansbridge said they would look into hosting a limited number of supporters at matches in line with government guidelines, and the Highlanders said they were also working on plans to allow members and commercial partners to play at home. at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Super Rugby Pacific.
However, there is now a real chance that the many Kiwi derbies in the revised Super Rugby Pacific draw will be played in front of largely empty stands.